Google and Austin, Texas, have invited press and business leaders to a joint event in the city, which has some people speculating whether Austin might be the next place to get Google Fiber.
The event, which is to be held this Tuesday at 11 a.m., doesn't specify what will be announced. It simply says that "the City of Austin and Google will make a very important announcement that will have a positive impact on Austinites and the future of the city."
Austin city officials are mum on the news. And Google public relations representatives have declined to comment.
GigaOm and VentureBeat were among the first to report the speculation that the invitation might be about the launch of Google Fiber in Austin. But it's possible that the event is to announce a new Google office or pilot program for a different Google service in the city.
Still, Google Fiber coming to Austin makes sense. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has said publicly that Kansas City, Kan., won't be the only city to get the service. Google plans to turn Google Fiber, a service which offers 1Gbps broadband Internet service, into a business.
Google launched the Google Fiber service in Kansas City in July. It is currently the only city to have the all-fiber broadband service from Google. But Schmidt noted in December at a New York Times event that the company had hopes of expanding the Gigabit broadband service to other cities.
Austin was supposedly high on the list of potential cities to get Google Fiber when Google was first evaluating places to deploy the service, according to GigaOm. And it makes sense. Austin is a tech-savvy city that also serves as the home of a major university. Several large technology companies have offices nearby, including Dell, Samsung, and Intel. And the city also has a vibrant technology startup scene, not to mention the fact that it hosts the annual SXSW technology and music festival.
There's no question that Austin residents and businesses would put Google Fiber to good use. The big question now is whether Google is ready to expand its network or if it will wait for expansion. Building such networks is expensive.
Google isn't the only one looking to build such high-speed networks. An organization called Gig.U is working with service providers and community leaders in cities with large universities to help facilitate the building of these networks.
Efforts by Google and Gig.U are part of a growing movement that is supported by the Obama administration to bring more high-speed broadband services to cities across the U.S. Recently, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski stated a goal of getting Gigabit-speed broadband services in all 50 states by 2015.